Minimum wage for Mexican journalists is $13 a day
Press workers in Mexico face poor wages, job insecurity and a high risk work environment. "The profession's standing has diminished because people know it's dangerous to be a journalist and, furthermore, it doesn't pay well," said Ariel Muñoz, president of the University of Morelia, in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
According to a survey from the National Commission on Minimum Wage in 2012, the least a print journalist can be paid is 176 pesos or $13 dollars a day, $400 a month. But reporters in the interior of the country are paid as little as $11 for up to 12 hours of work a day, said journalist Elia Baltazar, founder of the organization Periodistas de a Pie (Journalists on Foot), in a recent radio interview with the Mexican broadcaster MVS. Baltazar also warned that more journalists are self-employed today. Before, 70 percent of journalists were employed by a media company. Now, the majority are independent and lack benefits like health and life insurance. "It's a piecemeal job," she said.
The work conditions for the press in the country are so adverse that Muñoz suggested journalism could be in "danger of extinction" in Mexico. Last August, the University of Morelia announced the end of its journalism degree program for the 2012-2013 school year due to a lack of students. The University of Morelia is located in the state of Michoacán, where 12 journalists have been killed since 2000 and another three disappeared. Another institution, the University of Veracruz, has also reported high desertion rates from journalism students and low numbers of incoming students after the killing of 11 reporters in Veracruz, according to a report from the magazine eme-equis.
"It's not that they're just killing reporters, they're killing the drive to become one," an university official told the publication.
While journalists for the newspapers El País in Spain and The New York Times have organized to protest staff and wage cuts, Mexican journalists are more motivated by the impunity surrounding the killing of 74 of their colleagues since 2000.
Daniela Pastrana from Periodistas de a Pie said at the Austin Forum last May that media in Veracruz have fired reporters after they were threatened for their work.
Mariclaire Acosta from Freedom House Mexico attributed working conditions for the press in Mexico to a lack of professional awareness to demand labor rights, she said during an interview on Ombudsman de MVS.
Due to low Internet penetration, Mexico's newspapers enjoy an advantage over their U.S. counterparts but in Mexico there are fewer jobs available for the high number of journalism and communication graduates. "In the majority of newsrooms very young people work with little opportunity to advance up the ranks," Baltazar observed.
As a result, "there is no time to do professional, verified and balanced journalism," she said. In states like Tamaulipas, threats have reached a level where it is impossible to confirm the activities of organized crime. "There are places where information does not enter nor leave," the BBC reported last year.
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